Brownstoner takes on Brooklyn history in Nabe Names, a series of briefs on the origins and surprising stories of neighborhood nomenclature.
This water-bound, blue-collar southern enclave is defined by its unique combination of modest, detached homes (some with definitively un-Brooklyn porches), dry docks, alphabetical streets, and Brooklyn’s only remaining volunteer fire department.
Gerritsen Beach was named for Wolphert Gerritsen, a Dutch settler who built his home and mill along Gerritsen Creek — which, according to today’s boundaries, is located within the adjacent neighborhood of Marine Park — in the early 17th century. For generations, the Gerritsens milled the area, which was left largely rural until the 1920s when developers began constructing a resort community in the area, according to the book Brooklyn By Name.
Hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, the neighborhood is once again thriving, and today retains the large Irish-Catholic and Italian communities for which it has been historically known.